Antonio Rudiger has transcended into becoming become one of Europe’s most feared defenders despite once looking as if his days at Chelsea were numbered.
Rio Ferdinand claimed that the 28-year-old has transformed into the Premier League’s best centre-half under Thomas Tuchel and the former England international is well in his right to do so, despite the Blues’ uninspiring 1-0 loss to Juventus.
Tuchel’s side looked sluggish at times and often opened the door for Massimiliano Allegri’s side to counter-attack after a succession of mistakes in the middle of the park.
Federico Chiesa scored the decisive goal for the Old Lady eleven seconds into the second-half restart but Rudiger was unable to come across from the left and cover in time, but remain resolute throughout.
Rudiger bailed Chelsea out on a handful of occasions with his incredible recovery pace, strength and defensive nous; most notably when the German did just enough for Federico Chiesa to lose his trail of thought when chasing the Italian goal bound.
Speaking on BT Sport prior to the west Londoner’s clash with the Old Lady, Ferdinand rightfully labelled Rudiger as the best in the country, overtaking Manchester City’s Ruben Dias.
“I think Dias last season was the best overall, but since Tuchel’s come, I think he’s been the most commanding centre-back in the league. He’s been phenomenal,” Ferdinand said.
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“In terms of his absolute desire to win every ball, aggression. The character to come back in the team and become an integral member of this team [is impressive].”
Ferdinand added how Rudiger was one of the main reasons Chelsea won the Champions League, which you can only agree with, bringing light to the German’s excellent ability to optimally mould himself into various footballing cultures.
He said: “One of the main reasons for them going and winning the Champions League last season was because of him. Without him, I don’t think they’d have done it.”
Joe Cole agreed, adding that Rudiger, who has just one-year remaining on his current deal at Chelsea, is integral to the club’s ambitions despite the Blues’ 1-0 loss to Manchester City, crucial to the title race.
“Rudiger’s only got one year left on his contract,” the former Chelsea number ten said.
“That’s one of the biggest bits of business Chelsea need to do. He’s an integral member of not just the team, but the group, he’s a leader, so they need to get that sorted Chelsea.”
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